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Rivalry Week: What it means for…

Nick Saban AP

Rivalry Week is at once the best and worst of times for college football fans.

At its best, this extended weekend wrapped around the Thanksgiving holiday offers up a litany of games that mean something beyond conference or BCS implications, giving all fan bases something just as meaty and satisfying: bragging rights and pride, especially when it’s an in-state rival humbled in defeat on the opposing sideline.  At its worst, however, this weekend means that yet another college football season is quickly wrapping up, with just a handful of regular season games remaining to go along with conference championship games and bowls.

There are, though, the obvious implications beyond just bragging rights and pride.  Myriad implications, from conference races to BCS placement to the chase for the 2013 Heisman Trophy.

So, with that as the backdrop, here’s a look at the marquee matchups for Week 14 and the potential implications the outcomes of the games could/would/should have on all fronts.

No. 1 Alabama at No. 4 Auburn
“The Mother of All Iron Bowls” indeed.  The stunning turnaround by Auburn under Gus Malzahn — from 3-9, 0-8 last season to 10-1, 6-1 in 2013 — has nearly overshadowed Alabama’s quest for three straight BCS titles and four in five years .  Who would’ve thought, prior to September, that this year’s version of the Iron Bowl would carry more conference and national weight than Alabama’s games against Texas A&M and LSU combined?  Certainly not anyone who doesn’t end their prayers with “War Damn Eagle!”  Speaking of a Higher Football Power, the last four Iron Bowl winners have gone on to win the BCS championship.

What it means for…
… the SEC: Everything, at least as far as the West is concerned.  It’s a winner-take-all battle, with the victor staking its claim to the divisional title and a spot in the conference championship game against either Missouri or South Carolina.  The Tide would earn a share of the divisional title even with a loss, although, obviously, the head-to-head tiebreaker would go to the Tigers with a win.
… the BCS: An Alabama win keeps the No. 1 Tide on its year-long inside track for one of the two spots in the BCS title game.  Even with a loss, Alabama would be a near-shoe-in for an at-large berth in a BCS bowl, although that wouldn’t be clarified until after the conference championship game.  The same could be said for Auburn, which would get serious consideration for an at-large bid despite an Iron Bowl loss.
… the Heisman: Thanks to the missteps of others in Week 13, AJ McCarron has suddenly vaulted into the No. 2 position behind Florida State’s Jameis Winston in the eyes of both the voters and the oddsmakers.  A strong performance on a national stage would most certainly keep the Tide quarterback toward the top of the conversation and, depending on how the Winston off-field situation plays out, could send him hurtling toward front-runner status.

No. 2 Florida State at Florida
To say that the Sunshine State rivalry has lost some luster for this year’s game would be an understatement.  While Florida State is more than holding up its end of the bargain — nationally-ranked and seemingly predestined for a shot at the crystal — Florida enters the game armed with an embattled head coach and a six-game losing streak that’s the program’s worst since 1979.  The Gators won last year in Tallahassee, although the Seminoles are four-touchdown favorites this year in The Swamp.  While his boss continues to back him, Will Muschamp directing an embarrassing blowout loss in Gainesville could force Jeremy Foley to reconsider that very strident public support.

What it means for…
… the ACC/SEC: Literally nothing for either conference.  FSU has already locked up the Atlantic division’s spot in the ACC championship game, while UF was long ago eliminated from SEC East contention.
… the BCS: For a team that’s outscored its opponents 402-65 the past seven games, this game would appear to be nothing more than a worn-down speed bump on its inexorable march to the BCS title game.  Seemingly the only thing standing between the Seminoles and an early-January date in the Rose Bowl is a win over the Gators as well as an ACC championship game in which they will be prohibitive favorites regardless of which team comes out of the Coastal.
… the Heisman: For Jameis Winston, the Heisman is his for the taking — provided he doesn’t trip over himself the next two weeks and, more importantly, the investigation into an alleged sexual assault doesn’t give him bigger things to worry about than a fumbled trophy.

No. 3 Ohio State at Michigan
Michigan has stumbled through a disappointing season with a 7-4 record that could easily be sub-.500 were it not for a couple of escapes against vastly inferior opponents.  At the other end of the spectrum is Ohio State, riding a nation’s best 23-game winning streak.  In fact, the Buckeyes set a school record last weekend, surpassing the 22-game streak of the 1967-69 squads.  The team that snapped the previous mark?  The 7-2 Wolverines in Ann Arbor, of course.  When it comes to The Game, you just never ever know  — especially when a heavy home underdog is involved.

What it means for…
… the Big Ten: As is the case for the game above this one, absolutely nothing.  Not only have the Buckeyes already clinched the Leaders division, they also already know they will face Legends winner Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game next weekend in Indianapolis.  Thanks to NCAA sanctions last year, OSU will be making its first-ever appearance in the conference title game.
… the BCS: If Ohio State has any shot at a BCS title, they have to hope either Alabama or Florida State loses once the next two weekends.  Outside of the crystal title game, they could also earn an automatic BCS bowl bid with two more wins, or perhaps an at-large bid with a loss in the Big Ten title game.  Either way, their BCS future won’t be decided until next weekend, although it could certainly take a significant at-large hit with a loss this weekend.
… the Heisman: When it comes to the Buckeyes and stiff-armed talk, “what if” is certainly in play.  Braxton Miller entered the 2013 season as the Heisman front-runner, but an injury that cost him a pair of September games knocked him completely off the radar.  Thanks to the stumbles of others, the quarterback is back on at least the periphery of the discussion, although it would take something monumental to once again make the junior a serious contender.  Perhaps Carlos Hyde, he of the three-game suspension to start the year, could make a late push?  Doubtful, but, as the last couple of weeks have shown, anything is possible when it comes to the most prestigious award in college football.

No. 6 Clemson at No. 10 South Carolina
Stated simply, South Carolina has owned this rivalry of late with wins each of the past four years, with none coming by less than 10 points.  Steve Spurrier has Dabo Swinney‘s number and is not shy about letting people know about it, which is part and parcel of why this is such a tremendous non-conference rivalry.

What it means for…
… the ACC/SEC: Clemson’s chances at an Atlantic division title went down in flames in the midst of a 37-point beatdown at the hands of Florida State in mid-October.  If Missouri loses to Texas A&M, South Carolina will represent the East in the SEC championship game.
… the BCS: The Gamecocks’ lone opportunity for a BCS bowl rests in securing the SEC’s automatic bid via a conference championship.  If Florida State does indeed make the BCS title game, the Tigers are primed to replace the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl and insert the 70-33 jokes here.
… the Heisman: You would think that Tajh Boyd would be in the thick of the Heisman conversation.  The Clemson quarterback’s not, and I don’t have a clue as to why.

No. 25 Notre Dame at No. 8 Stanford
While it’s hardly on par with Notre Dame-USC, Notre Dame-Stanford has evolved into quite the entertaining rivalry the past several years.  Of the past nine games played, six have been decided by eight points or less.  The Irish own a 6-3 edge during that span, including an overtime win in South Bend last season en route to the BCS championship game.

What it means for…
… the Pac-12: The North division’s game of hot potato continued — and ultimately ended — last week thanks to Oregon’s lopsided loss to Arizona, handing the division title and a spot in the conference title game to Stanford.  The Cardinal will (likely) travel a week later to South winner Arizona State for a game that will decide the league’s automatic BCS berth.  If the Sun Devils lose to the same Wildcats that dumped the Ducks, the Cardinal would play host.
… the BCS: The Irish have no chance to move into the top-14 of the final BCS rankings necessary to qualify them for an at-large BCS bid.  If the Cardinal entertain any hope of qualifying for a fourth straight BCS bowl, they will need to win the conference; a third loss, whether it be this week or next, would effectively eliminate them from at-large contention.

No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 5 Missouri
One year after Texas A&M exploded onto the SEC scene in wildly-entertaining fashion, the Aggies have been reduced to playing the role of spoiler to a fellow former Big 12 member.  Playing the role of 2012 A&M is Missouri, which enters Week 14 with something the Aggies of a year ago didn’t: an opportunity to claim its first SEC divisional crown.

What it means for…
… the SEC: The conference scenario for Mizzou is very simple and straightforward.  Win, and the Tigers are in the SEC championship game as the East’s representative.  Lose and they’re out, replaced by South Carolina.
… the BCS: With three losses on their current résumé, there’s no need to use “A&M” and “BCS bowl” in the same sentence, unless it’s separated by “won’t be in a.”  Just as it was for its conference scenario, Mizzou’s BCS dreams are very simple and straightforward: win this weekend… win next weekend… and they’re in as the SEC’s automatic bid.  Lose at any point the next two weeks, and the Tigers will (very likely) be sitting outside the BCS window looking in.
… the Heisman: Johnny Manziel made significant repeat strides in the eyes of those who passionately follow the Heisman the last several weeks before a damaging performance against LSU seemingly knocked him out of contention.  Of course, based on how the stiff-armed landscape has drastically shifted the past couple of weeks, a resurgent performance against a high-quality opponent could put the reigning Heisman winner right back in the conversation.

Texas Tech at Texas
No. 9 Baylor at TCU
The most interesting aspect of this pair of games is how Baylor responds to an embarrassing and devastating loss.  In firm control of the Big 12 race entering Week 13 and with a BCS title game appearance a possibility, the Bears’ loss to Oklahoma State all but ruined what was a once-promising season.  A loss to the Cowboys the previous week, oddly enough, also cost Texas control of its own destiny in the conference.

What it means for…
… the Big 12: Here are the scenarios for each of the one-loss teams currently tied atop the Big 12 standings and what they need to happen to claim the conference crown.

  • Oklahoma State: a win over Oklahoma in Bedlam Dec. 7 coming off a bye week, regardless of what Baylor or Texas do and based on head-to-head wins over both.
  • Baylor: an OSU loss, plus wins over TCU and Texas.
  • Texas: an OSU loss, plus wins over Texas Tech and Baylor.

… the BCS: For both Baylor and Texas, their BCS bowl odds are long.  Each needs an Oklahoma State loss in order to claim the Big 12’s automatic berth as neither will be in play for an at-large bid, although there’s an asterisk when it comes to that absolute –there are a couple of scenarios that could get BU in as an at-large, although they are longshots at best and pipe dreams at worst.

No. 24 Duke at North Carolina
Will the shoe fit, or will the clock strike midnight on Duke’s Cinderella season?  The Blue Devils are in the midst of a historic campaign, with nine wins tying the school record set in 1941 and the opportunity to reach double digits for the first time since the program began playing football back in 1922.  They’ve qualified for a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever.  Simply put, Duke is one of the best stories of the 2013 season.  Whether the Blue Devils cap their fairy-tale story with a divisional crown remains to be seen.

What it means for…
… the ACC: If Duke beats North Carolina, which has won five straight after beginning the season 1-5, the Blue Devils will stake their claim to their first-ever ACC Coastal title.  If not?  A five-way tie between Duke (5-2), Virginia Tech (4-3), Miami (4-3), Georgia Tech (5-3) and North Carolina (4-3) is a possibility, although only the first four remain alive in the divisional race.  So, if Duke loses and all Coastal hell breaks loose, here’s what each team would need in order to secure the spot as Florida State’s sacrificial lamb in the ACC championship game.

  • Duke: a win over North Carolina; cannot win the division with a loss.
  • Virginia Tech: a Duke loss, plus a win over Virginia.
  • Miami: a Duke loss, a Virginia Tech loss, plus a win over Pittsburgh.
  • Georgia Tech (ACC slate complete): a Duke loss, a Virginia Tech loss, a Miami loss.

… the BCS: Whichever team survives the Coastal chaos and represents the division in the division in the ACC championship technically has an opportunity to secure an automatic BCS bid.  Realistically, none of the four teams with a chance to win the Coastal has any type of shot at upsetting the Seminoles in Charlotte.

USF at No. 19 UCF
How little respect does UCF get?  The Knights, whose lone loss on the season came by three points to No. 10 South Carolina, are ranked by the coaches three spots behind a one-loss Louisville team that UCF beat on the road.  Obviously the lack of respect for the AAC as a whole is playing a significant role, but it doesn’t change the fact that George O’Leary‘s squad deserves better treatment in the polls than what they’ve been getting.

What it means for…
… the AAC: A win by UCF pushes its conference record to 7-0 and clinches the AAC regardless of what the Knights do a week later against SMU.  Louisville’s conference title hopes remain alive but on life support, with the Cardinals needing two UCF losses as well as a win of their own Dec. 5 at Cincinnati.
… the BCS: The AAC receives an automatic BCS bid, so a conference crown for UCF also means a guaranteed spot at the BCS table, with the chair likely coming in the Sugar Bowl against an SEC foe.

No. 16 Fresno State at San Jose State
This game is all about the scenarios and possibilities, which appear below.

What it means for…
… the MWC: Fresno State has already clinched the West and will represent that division in the MWC championship game.  The Bulldogs will face Utah State for the league title if the Aggies beat Wyoming Saturday, Boise State — based on the head-to-head tiebreaker with USU — if the Broncos beat New Mexico and the Aggies lose.
… the BCS: If Fresno State can win out, they will battle Northern Illinois for what should be the lone BCS bowl berth for a non-automatic qualifying conference member.  In order for a non-AQ to qualify for an at-large bid, it needs to finish in the top-16 of the final BCS rankings and ahead of the lowest-ranked AQ conference winner (No. 19 UCF in this case); the Huskies leapfrogged the Bulldogs in last week’s rankings and are now at No. 14, while Fresno sits at No. 16.  Whichever of those two teams finish ranked higher in the final BCS standings, provided it’s in the top-16 and ahead of (presumably) UCF, will grab the non-AQ berth and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.
… the Heisman: Derek Carr is one of the most prolific passers in the country, ranking first in total offense and passing touchdowns and second in passing yards.  Up until this week, however, he’s barely been a part of the Heisman discussion.  Thanks to the shortcomings of others he’s now in the mix, although it should never have taken others tripping up for that to happen.

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Report: Jim Harbaugh’s summer camp tour cost $211,948

Jim Harbaugh

The Jim Harbaugh effect has already shown its worth in ticket sales in Ann arbor as the season is about to get underway, but Harbaugh is also racking up quite a bill in Michigan’s athletics office as well. Harbaugh’s summer camp tour around the nation — you remember, the one coaches in the ACC and SEC disliked — cost Michigan $211,948. Worth every penny? Probably.

According to a report from MLive.com, the sum of the bill exceeded the total recruiting budgets of as many as 40 different FBS programs during the 2012-13 athletic year. The large bulk of the costs came from airfare, which racked up over $198,000 to fly Harbaugh and members of the staff around the country. Keep in mind these coaches are not simply getting tickets on the most convenient Southwest Airlines flight. They’re flying a plane owned by Michigan. That costs some big money. The coaches also spent over $4,000 on food and nearly $10,000 on lodging. Again, these guys are not staying in a Motel 6 or picking up something from the McDonald’s drive-thru. This stuff adds up quickly.

In the big picture, Michigan can afford to spend so much money on a summer camp tour, and it almost has to spend the extra bucks if the intent is to give Harbaugh and his staff every opportunity to regain a recruiting footing to catch up with programs like Ohio State. According to the latest team rankings from Rivals, Michigan has the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation, with nine four-star players in the 23-members Class of 2016.

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Vandy adds in-state FCS opponent to 2016, 2018 schedule

A new season may be upon us, but scheduling news has no sign of stopping. Vanderbilt has added a pair of non-conference games against an in-state FCS program for 2016 and 2018.

Vanderbilt will host Tennessee State on October 22, 2016 and again on September 29, 2018. The additions of Tennessee State to the schedule brings Vanderbilt one game closer to completing the 2016 non-conference schedule.

The SEC will start requiring all conference members to have at least one game scheduled against another power conference opponent in 2016, and Vanderbilt has that covered with a game at Georgia Tech. Tennessee State joins Middle Tennessee on Vanderbilt’s non-conference schedule in 2018, leaving two spots to fill that season. One of those two vacant spots will have to be played against another power conference opponent.

The last time Vanderbilt faced Tennessee State was in 2006, with Vandy picking up a decisive 38-9 win.

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Report: Multiple Rutgers players arrested for assault

Deontay Greenberry, Nadir Barnwell

Well, I suppose now we know what all the commotion was about at Rutgers practice today.

Of the four Rutgers students and two former students charged today with assaulting a group of individuals, five are Rutgers football players and another is a former player. The assault left one student with a broken jaw and the attack was reportedly unprovoked. A total of nine defendants were arrested today, and one more is still to be arrested. Five players confirmed to have been charged are defensive backs Ruhann Peele, Nadir Barnwell, Dre Boggs and Delon Stephenson and fullback Razohnn Gross. Barnwell is the player linked to the separate ongoing university investigation of head coach Kyle Flood, who was allegedly contacting a professor about Barnwell’s eligibility status. Boggs and Stephenson were projected starters for Rutgers this weekend. All five of the current players have been suspended from the program while the legal process develops.

The former player arrested was Tejay Johnson, who was charged with robbery, criminal restraint, theft, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Johnson’s career was cut short due to injury in 2014 prior to Big Ten media days.

According to a report from NJ.com, the arrests come as a result of an ongoing investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Brunswick Police Department. The investigation commenced in the spring following a reported home invasion in New Brunswick. Per the report, three men wearing masks forced their way into the home and left with an undisclosed amount of cash and marijuana as five students were held at gunpoint.

At this point there has been no statement from Rutgers regarding this latest news, although this post will be updated as soon as there is a statement to share.

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Kyle Flood says he is coaching Rutgers on Saturday

Kyle Flood

It was a bit of a bizarre scene at Rutgers football practice Thursday morning. Police showed up, as did athletics director Julie Herman. Given the recent headlines involving head football coach Kyle Flood, you could be forgiven for expecting something bad to go down. That was not the case, however, as Flood announced to the media he was still planning on coaching the Scarlet Knights on Saturday against Norfolk State in the season opener.

“I will be coaching the game on Saturday,” Rutgers football coach said with conviction after Thursday’s practice. “It’s always great to have the support of your administration. I think when the players come out to practice and they see that your athletic director is here, I think that speaks to it.”

It is not every day the AD at Rutgers makes her way to football practice, and her reason for attending was unconfirmed publicly. Herman declined to field questions from the members of the media on hand for Rutgers practice.

Flood is being investigated by the university for alleged direct contact of a professor regarding the eligibility of one of his players. According to a report published on Wednesday, the Flood allegedly disobeyed a direct order from the academic support staff with regard to the eligibility. Flood expressed anger in that information being relayed to the media. If guilty of violating university protocol the punishment to Flood could range from as little as a reprimand to as extreme as the termination of his contract.

If nothing else, Flood feels confident he is not going anywhere and facing a similar fate as ex-Illinois head coach Tim Beckman.

UPDATE (1:40 p.m.): No sooner than hitting the publish button on this post, news breaks multiple Rutgers players have been arrested for an alleged assault. That would likely explain the police presence.

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Cardale Jones doing fine after release from hospital

Cardale Jones

Any time a player is rushed to a hospital it is cause for concern. Fortunately for Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, there is no need to be too worried about his health. After being rushed to a hospital late Wednesday night for treatment of severe headaches, Jones has been released and is back with the team.

“Cardale Jones was examined last night at the OSU Wexner Medical Center,” a statement from Ohio State’s athletics department said Thursday morning. “He was released from the center following the examination and he is doing fine today.”

Headaches are always a cause for some alarm, especially with the increased awareness of concussions and concussion symptoms in football. Head trauma treatment has improved in great strides over the years, but detecting possible concussions can still be tricky. From the information released so far though, a concussion does not appear to be a concern for Jones, who led the Buckeyes on an improbable postseason run last season to win the Big Ten and national championships.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has not confirmed publicly who his starting quarterback will be Monday night when the Buckeyes open the 2015 season on the road at Virginia Tech. Jones and J.T. Barrett are the last two options standing after Braxton Miller switched positions this offseason.

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CFT 2015 Preseason Preview Repository

books in library room AP

As you may have noticed, we’re getting very, very close to the start of yet another college football season, one that’s set to be one of the most wide-open and eventful as any in the last handful of decades. As you may have also noticed throughout the month, two of us — myself and Kevin — are the midst of offering up, and actually finishing up, myriad preview material for said college football season.

With the FBS season opener at hand just a few hours from now, and as a service to you, our dear and loyal readers, we’ve created this page for all of y’all’s convenience, with all of our previews linked out from this one handy, dandy spot.

Enjoy, come back often and, most importantly, click away like your life depended on it.  Or drink beer and watch actual football instead of just reading about it.  One of the two.

Aug. 17 — Six-Pack of Storylines
Aug. 18 — Top 25
Aug. 19 — Impact Freshmen
Aug. 20 — Key Transfers
Aug. 21 — Heisman Watch List
Aug. 24 — Coaching Hot Seat
Aug. 25 — 10-Pack of Top Games
Aug. 26 — Playoff Predictions
Aug. 26 — Playoff Darkhorses

CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS

Aug. 27 — ACC
Aug. 28 — Big 12
Aug. 31 — Big Ten
Sept. 1 — Pac-12
Sept. 2 — SEC

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Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan coaching debut is an awfully hot ticket

USC v Utah Getty Images

The eyes of college football will train toward Salt Lake City tonight, but if you want to get a last-minute ticket to Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan coaching debut against Utah, you’ll have to pay up.

Granted, there are only 39 tickets left on StubHub.com as of this sentence being written, but the cheapest way to get into Rice-Eccles Stadium is to pay $245 for a standing room ticket. That makes it one of opening weekend’s priciest tickets, coming in at No. 2 in the week’s top five (with the cheapest ticket listed):

Notre Dame-Texas: $264
Utah-Michigan: $245
Virginia Tech-Ohio State: $170
Western Michigan-Michigan State: $125
Louisville-Auburn: $92 (Georgia Dome)

(Worth noting, if you buy a last-minute ticket to Notre Dame-Texas, good luck finding a reasonably-priced hotel in the South Bend/Michiana area).

The Utah-Michigan game is the only one on this list that doesn’t feature a ranked team. Everybody must be pretty psyched to see Harbaugh pair some khakis with a maize and blue shirt/sweater.

Looking for value? Head to Texas and get in the door for what could be a sparsely-attended neutral site game between Alabama and Wisconsin for $60 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. That only about 40,000 tickets have been sold for that game makes it even more disappointing we’ll never get a shot of Nick Saban standing on the sidelines while Camp Randall jumps around.

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Tennessee will once again checker-out Neyland Stadium

Florida v Tennessee

Last year was so successful, Tennessee is going to do it again.

Tennessee fans started a grassroots effort to check-out Neyland Stadium last season, giving a fresh and unique spin on the whole concept of decking the entire crowd out in one uniform color. This even goes beyond the stripe-out efforts that have started to crop up around the country. The movement caught fire and Tennessee’s athletics department helped finalize the final efforts to make it a reality. Now they are ready to give it another whirl.

Though it had been speculated as a likely event, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones confirmed today Tennessee will deck the fans out in the coordinated orange and white for the home game against Oklahoma on September 12.

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LSU adds second Super Bowl-esque halftime show

Aloe Blacc

Forget about laser light shows and well-choreographed halftime shows by marching bands. LSU is attempting to raise the bar when it comes to halftime entertainment.

Fans attending LSU home games this season will be treated to two shows more likely to resemble a Super Bowl halftime concert than a traditional college football halftime show with the band or bands taking the field. Earlier this week LSU announced a performance by One Republic at halftime of the October 17 game against Florida. Today came another halftime performance announcement. Aloe Blacc has been added to the line-up this season, with a November 14 halftime performance when LSU takes on Arkansas.

“Another Saturday in Tiger Stadium just got bigger,” said Don Green, president of College Live LLC, in a released statement. “It is very exciting to bring great artists into Tiger Stadium to play with LSU’s Golden Band from Tigerland. These unique performances will only add to the reputation of Tiger Stadium being one of the greatest places to watch football.”

Well, some traditionalists may be well-suited to bicker with that last statement from Green. These types of halftime shows tend to detract from the football game itself, but we’re not exactly ready to leap into a world where every week college football teams are going to have Super Bowl-elaborate performances. And at least it makes for a unique experience for the folks in the LSU marching band, right?

Give LSU credit. In an age where college football administrators are focused on finding new and creative ways to enhance the gameday experience as attendance issues continue to grow, LSU is thinking outside the box by bringing in live performers for fans to enjoy, some more than others. Although Aloe Blacc is scheduled to perform a song titled “I Need A Dollar,” which feels oddly appropriate given the nature of college football these days.

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Temple’s P.J. Walker gains maturity as he preps for Penn State

P.J. Walker

It is not often Temple enters a season with high expectations, but that appears to be the case with the Owls in 2015. Though other teams may be favored to make a run in the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati is the preseason favorite), many have been lauding Temple’s returning experience this fall. No team can match the experience Temple brings back in 2015 with 10 defensive starters and seven more on offense set to return. It is what Temple does with that experience that matters most, and head coach Matt Rhule feels his quarterback, P.J. Walker, is ready to take the next steps entering his third year under center.

“In the history of Temple, there are only a couple of guys that have been bowl-eligible quarterbacks,” Rhule said in a story published by CSN Philly. “To me, it’s just taking the next step and it’s just one simple thing and one simple thing only: don’t turn the football over as much.”

Walker had 15 interceptions last year, so Rhule’s concern is valid. Fortunately, Rhule also sees improvement in his quarterback in practices.

“You see a totally different kid maturity-wise,” he said. “Not that he was an immature kid; he just understands more and more of the game. He is a winner. My point to him was keep winning. He got us to six wins. Now make the next jump.”

Rhule will see his quarterback put to the test on Saturday afternoon. Temple opens the season at home against Penn State, which should bring a strong defensive secondary to Lincoln Financial Field.

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Florida QB Treon Harris gets the start, but Grier will play too

Florida Spring Game

Florida used to be known for playing multiple quarterbacks, and it helped Steve Spurrier take the Gators to an elite status and helped Urban Meyer win his first national championship. New Gators coach Jim McElwain may not have that kind of quarterback pool to swim in down in Gainesville, but he will continue this Florida tradition to open the season. Well, technically.

McElwain announced today Treon Harris will be the starting quarterback for the Gators when they host New Mexico State on Saturday. Will Grier will also get some playing time though.

“This is still a painting in progress,” McElwain explained. “This is two guys pulling in the same direction to help this football team.”

Like a handful of teams around the country, there simply is no clear winner in the quarterback competition at Florida just yet, so seeing what each can do in a live game situation can be critical. This holds especially true at Florida with a brand new head coach who has not previously worked with either player during the course of the regular season.

Harris played in nine games last season for the Gators, in which he completed 49.5 percent of his pass attempts for 1,019 yards and nine touchdowns with four interceptions thrown. Grier was a four-star dual-threat quarterback recruit for Florida in the Class of 2014. Despite enrolling early at Florida in 2014, he did not play last season and was able to save the season with a redshirt.

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Kyle Flood fires back at latest incriminating story

Kyle Flood

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is none too pleased about anonymous sources from Rutgers leaking information about an investigation to the media. Whether he violated university policy or directions or not, Flood has a legitimate gripe.

Earlier today NJ.com reported the latest developments on the investigation involving the head football coach, in which Flood is accused of intentionally going around the backs of academic support staff instructions to contact a professor at the university directly with regard to the eligibility of one of his players. After initially declining to comment on the latest story earlier in the day, Flood let it pour out.

As transcribed by CoachingSearch.com;

“Let me ask this question before I respond: What you’re saying to me is, that a process that I’ve been told from the university not to comment on was commented on by people from the university?” Flood said. “I’m going to continue to respect the process, and I won’t have any further comment until the end of the process.”

Again, whether Flood was in the wrong or not with his alleged actions, he absolutely has a right to be upset about this development. If he was given instructions not to comment on the investigation, then nobody else from the university should have shared pertinent information either. The fault here is not on the report from NJ.com or any other outlet that followed up with commentary on the report, but on the anonymous sources that shared the information.

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TCU defense will be down two players against Minnesota

Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl - Mississippi v TCU Getty Images

The names of two defensive players not playing the season opener at Minnesota have not been confirmed by head coach Gary Patterson, but the release of the Horned Frogs’ depth chart seems to draw some conclusions. Defensive end James McFarland and cornerback DeShawn Raymond were not listed on the depth chart for the season opener, which would seem to strongly suggest which two players will not be available for the game, for whatever reason or reasons that may be.

Patterson offered no information regarding the identities of the two players he said will miss the game, saying only “You’ll find out when we get to game time.”

McFarland was TCU’s leading sack master last fall with seven sacks. His defensive efforts earned him MVP honors in TCU’s blowout win over Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. McFarland did miss some practice time this spring as he worked to get his foot back in good order. Whether an injury is the reason McFarland may not be available is unknown, as Patterson has designed.

If nothing else can be learned from a batch of the season’s opening depth charts, it is that coaches do not like to tip their hands. the number of quarterbacks listed with “or” by their names has become a bit of a humorous trend as coaches look to hide as much information as possible entering the first games of the season, and this is no different.

TCU’s defense is actually one of the bigger questions for the Horned Frogs this season, which seems to go against the grain when it comes to a Patterson-coached team. But even without a couple of players for the opener, it is expected Patterson will find a way to figure enough out on defense to give TCU a chance to make a run in the Big 12 and perhaps the playoffs.

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Nebraska’s Mike Riley accused of fostering sexually violent culture that led to rape in 1999

Mike Riley

Well, this is certainly among the last things Nebraska head coach Mike Riley would have liked to see just days before starting a new season at his new job. A former student at Oregon State has filed a Title IX lawsuit that blames Riley of failing to address an allegedly sexually violent culture at Oregon State, which allegedly led to a rape back in 1999.

According to a report from The Oregonian, the woman filing the lawsuit claims she was raped on October 9, 1999 while a freshman at Oregon State. According to the alleged victim’s story, she attended an off-campus party, passed out and was escorted to an apartment she claims some Oregon State football players lived. It is there she claims to have been raped.

“She was being sexually assaulted by the young man who had offered her the beer,” the suit says. “She was unable to move her arms or legs to fight back. She faded back out of consciousness.”

The alleged victim filed a report in the next 48 hours to an Oregon State sexual assault counselor and claims that counselor attempted to persuade her to thinking she consenting to the sexual interaction. The suit claims that counselor attempted to prevent the victim from pursuing any other assistance on the manner. This lawsuit now intends to correct a wrong that allegedly happened more than a decade ago, and Riley has been thrown into the mix as well. The alleged victim was inspired to come forward after a previous report on another victim surfaced in 2014, in which that woman claimed to have been raped by two Oregon State football players in 1998 in the same apartment complex.

Riley is accused of not addressing the culture of his football team with regard to sexual violence. While he ultimately is not responsible for the action of players under his watch, it is his responsibility to ensure his players are aware of the consequences for putting the football program in a negative light. The sad reality is, whether Riley is to blame or not for what occurred at Oregon State, there is no telling how many of these sorts of cases are out there hidden in the shadows by victims on campuses across the country. The awareness has certainly grown in more recent years, but the turn of the century was a completely different environment, and the decades going back likely have more dark tales that may never be told.

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Report: Kyle Flood defied Rutgers academic support staff

Kyle Flood

Last week it was reported Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood was being investigated for alleged impermissible contact with a university faculty member. The latest twist in this story suggests Flood may have done so despite being advised not to do so by academic support staff members.

A new report from NJ.com cites multiple unnamed university officials in saying Flood was instructed by academic support staff not to make contact with a professor to inquire about the academic standing of one of his players, reported to be cornerback Nadir Barnwell. The university is investigating an email allegedly from Flood from a private account. But the scope of the investigation is focused more on the possibility Flood tried to work around the process regarding academics and football, not simply just that Flood used a private email to contact a professor.

While only one side of the story, the story painted by the NJ.com is none too flattering to Flood’s involvement with the status of Barnwell. Per the report, academic support staff had been communicating with a professor of Barnwell’s since May with regard to his academic standing. Flood was kept apprised of the situation, which is customary for an academic support staff and coach. However, one source to NJ.com suggests Flood attempted to intervene directly with the professor with regard to Barnwell’s eligibility despite the academic support staff handling the situation.

Per NJ.com’

“The communication with him was clear as to the status of Nadir’s grade and he still decided he could fight it,” said one official, who claimed Flood “had a long paper trail of information” and still contacted the professor.

Another official said: “It was already done and everybody in the program knew it. Kyle was told, ‘It’s done, leave it alone.’ ”

If found guilty of violating university protocol, the punishment for Flood could range from something as light as a reprimand to as severe as the termination of his contract. The Big Ten already had one coach fail to reach the start of the new season. The chances a second loses his job before kickoff are probably pretty small.

Flood responded to the initial report last week by saying the accusations insulted his integrity. When given an opportunity to respond to this latest development in the story, Flood did not comment out of respect for the university process.

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